+ Speaks on his foundation, Save A Life Today
FAMOUS thespian and master of ceremonies, Bolaji Amusan, otherwise known as Mr. Latin has shed light on the death of his former Personal Assistant (PA), Lanre, who was said to have committed suicide in the US few days ago,
According to the comic actor and CEO, Mr. Latin Foundation, it will be hasty to jump into conclusion that the deceased actually committed suicide. He also spoke exclusively on his foundation, Save A Life Today and other issues.
What are you engaged in right now?
I am into 70 per cent humanitarian services at the moment. I founded Mr. Latin Foundation called Save A Life Today, in order to impact the lives of our fans and the masses generally.
When exactly was it established?
It was established in 2011, but we started activities massively around the third quarter of 2012. Since then, we have not looked back.
What is the progress so far?
The result has been marvelous. People have been identifying with us, they have been encouraging us. We thank God for where we’re today. We have been able to massively enlighten the general public on issues relating to health and other important aspects of life.
How many lives would you say you have touched either directly or indirectly?
Indirectly, I would say we have touched countless lives but directly we have touched about 1,000 lives within Ogun State. We have conducted kidney and liver tests for over 750 people free. We did this for them to ascertain the functionality of their kidneys and livers. Then, we were able to move to the nook sand crannies of Ogun State to educate people on the danger of self medication, the implication of drug abuse on kidney and so on. We did that in commemoration of Nigeria’s 53rd independence anniversary. And we have about 500 beneficiaries in this respect.
On Sunday, October 27, 2013, you held a programme here in Abeokuta, what was it about?
The programme was to honour great personalities who are also into humanitarian services. The occasion was also used for our third annual investiture and lecture. The lecture is entitled, The Role of Celebrities in Nation Building, delivered by Dr. Seye Kehinde of City People magazine. We honoured Ekiti first lady, Erelu Bisi Fayemi who has been advocating gender equality for a very long time. We also honoured Ogun first lady, Mrs. Olufunsho Amosun, founder of MITROS, Mission To Rebuild Ogun State. That’s the humanitarian services that deals in awareness campaign for cancer and also gives succour to the less privileged. We also honoured Sir Adebutu Kessington, the Chief Executive Officer of Premier Lotto, who has empowered thousands of our youths, and who is incidentally the founder of KAAP Foundation, that’s Kessington Adebukola Adebutu Foundation. We also honoured Otunba Gani Adams as a pillar of peace. He is a rallying point in the campaign for the emancipation of Yoruba race. King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal a.k.a K1 de Ultimate is the grand patron of the foundation. K1 has indirectly or directly made life easier for all the younger fuji artistes. He has internationalized the music, and he has given hope to a lot of people. If he can be what he is today, that means we also can be like him.
What level do you intend taking the foundation to in five years?
We’re planning to take it to national and international level. My role model is Bill Gates. As rich as he is, he has not given up. And he is constantly giving succour to the less privileged. So, we’re just leveraging on our celebrity status to reach out to the people by enlightening them on the danger associated with child and drug abuse, domestic violence as well as empowering the youths and widows.
Does the foundation have an operational office for now, and do you intend to have a permanent office in the nearest future?
As you rightly said, this place is our operational office but by the special grace of God, within six months, I believe we would be completing work on our permanent site. We have started building Skill Acquisition and Rehabilitation Centre, so that we will be able to take the youths out of the street and empower them so that they can be self reliable in the future. So, the center is also going to double as our permanent secretariat.
How much is the centre going to cost and when will it be ready?
It runs into millions of naira. By the grace of God, it’s going to be ready by the next quarter of 2014.
Is all this the reason Mr. Latin is not featuring in movies as before?
I am still very much in the industry, and I am participating in movies but not as frequent as my participation used to be. The reason is that the industry is collapsing. So, we’re still trying as much as possible to sort things out, and bring the industry back on its feet. Everything is not as it used to be unless we want to be deceiving ourselves. But by and large, even if I am shooting movies on a daily basis, I still have to give back. Just as one philosopher said, “It’s good to put back to the society as much as you make from it.” And that’s exactly what we’re trying to do, that’s paying back to the society that has made me. As a matter of fact, I am into so many things, including public relations, master of ceremonies, an entertainer, and also a student at the moment. But I still have to find a way of giving back, that’s what informed the foundation.
With the dwindling situation of Nigerian movie industry, do you think there is future for acting?
The point is that most of the people in the industry today are those that don’t really know much about the profession. They are just there to make money, they are not in the industry to leave any legacy. So, we stakeholders are trying to strategise so that we can bring the industry back to its glory. So that the profession can be better.
Some days back, there was a report that your former Personal Assistant, Lanre committed suicide in the U.S, what’s the truth about it?
Nobody can really say whether it was suicide or not because the case is still under investigation. There wasn’t any suicide note. Nobody knew how he got into the river. Whether he jumped or he was pushed into the river, nobody knows anything about it yet. No one can really say this was exactly what happened. It’s even likely he got drowned when he was swimming. But people just started peddling unnecessary rumour no sooner than the incident happened. No one can say anything concerning it, pending the outcome of the investigation. Lanre used to be my Personal Assistant but he left for the United States of America about two years ago.
We learnt you’re the one who took him there, how true is it?
All I know is that he left for the United States of America.
We also learnt he was your PA for eight years before travelling to the U.S?
(Cuts in) Yes, he was my PA for eight years.
How would you describe him when he was with you?
Lanre was a very nice guy, down to earth. It’s very unfortunate that we lost him at a prime age. May his soul rest in peace.
How would you now describe his death?
It’s very sad and painful. As you’re talking about it now, you’re still refreshing the incident in my heart. It’s so sad that he died so young.
How old was he?
He was just 32.
Was he married?
No, he had no wife neither did he have any child. So, if we keep talking about the incident, it’s doing a sort of disservice to his soul. I am still mourning him, he was somebody that really had my heart. I loved him so much, but God loved him most.
You said you’re in school, which school is that and what are you studying?
I am a 300 level student of Tourism, Extedel University, United Kingdom. At the same time, I am also an undergraduate student at National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), studying Case and Conflict Resolution.
What informed the decision?
One has to step up in everything. Now, as Executive Director, Mr. Latin Foundation, people are already expecting a lot from me. Soon, they will be inviting me to seminars and workshops. So, I need more knowledge, exposure and experience to back everything up. And I am enjoying the decision.
– TADE ASIFAT